of a tennis player, hiker, writer
|During the third week in April of this year, I flew out west to a town called Gold Beach,(Oregon). My mom had fallen, broke her hip, had surgery and was beginning the slow climb to recovery. I wanted to be there to help out.
Mom’s apartment sits within walking distance of everything; Radio Shack, Subway, McKay’s Market (grocery), Ace Hardware, and the Bookworm Bookstore. It was easy to whisk to McKay’s for Mom’s favorite foods, drop by the Corner Drug to pick up her prescriptions, or swing by Panther’s Den for a slice of pizza.
Located at the corner of First and Ellensburg is Bookworm. I passed it on every outing. On my second trip out, I noticed a huge sign propped out front noting an upcoming book signing on the Friday of my stay. A book signing…on a Friday night…when I had no other plans. Why not? I asked myself and told my mother I’d be MIA for a few hours Friday evening.
Turns out, Ann Rule was the author! You know, only the most renowned true crime writer. Rule, the one who practically defined the true crime genre as it exists today. Rule, who’s written approximately 17 books, countless articles and many short stories. Rule, the one unknowingly sat next to Ted Bundy, during her volunteer service with a suicide hotline, then later wrote, The Stranger Beside Me. THAT Ann Rule.
To fess up here, I’m not a big fan of the true crime genre. Shhh, don’t tell Ann. Nonetheless, I couldn’t wait until Friday. I chatted it up with anyone who would listen.
Another “turns out” factor was why Gold Beach marked her docket. Besides making a point to visit at least one independent bookstore on her “signing” agenda, Ann wrote a book, Mortal Danger, including a true life story about a murder that almost happened in Gold Beach. The survivor, Kate Jewell, and Detective, Dave Gardiner sat on either side of Rule during her question and answer session prior to the signing.
Standing room only. I was proud that I found a spot on the floor near the front. Many of the attendees were devout fans of Rule’s work. Many others were curious because a book had been written about an atrocity happening in their “backyards”. Still, others, like me were writers, intrigued by the inspiration and success of other writers.
Even thought true crime books don’t line my bookshelves, I found myself hanging on to every word she spoke. The audience asked specific questions about the case in print, the Ted Bundy book and many of her other works, but writers asked about her inspiration and start of her career.
My point, as writers, our muses often thrive on the climb of others. Hearing how successful writers began their careers douses us in a feeling of “Yes we can” sending us to our keyboards ready to type.
The next time you’re stumped with plot, character, narrative or any other elements of story writing why not surround yourself with other writers and go attend a local book signing at a bookstore near you.